Category Archives: Hoffenheim

The Bundesliga Show Episode 89 – Dortmund Dominated by Hamburg

Another week of Bundesliga action has past and the Bundesliga Show is here to wrap it all up. Matt Hermann and Jon Hartley bring together the talking points of Matchday 21. Matt is also joined by Jonas Keinert to discuss the troubles of Hoffenheim.

All that, plus Terry Duffelen‘s look back at the 2.Bundesliga.

Enjoy the show!

The Bundesliga Show Episode 84 – The Hinrunde Review with Phil Bonney

The Bundesliga has closed its doors for 2012. Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann pick over the best of the first half of the season with the help of Bundesliga commentator Phil Bonney.

Outside of the the best of the Hinrunde there are managerial changes that have taken place. Huub Stevens departure from Schalke and Marco Kurz’ arrival at Hoffenheim are all up for discussion.

Enjoy the show!

 

Marco Kurz is the new Hoffenheim coach

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have a new coach and his name is Marco Kurz. The 43 year old has been out of work since being sacked by FC Kaiserslautern in March, earlier in the year.

Despite getting the chop, Kurz’ reputation as a decent coach remained intact after having promoted FCK to the first division in 2010 then getting them to seventh in the table after their return to the top flight. The loss of top players (particularly Srdjan Lakic) without sufficient reinvestment lead to the club’s relegation. Firing Kurz was was a throw of the dice in the hope of saving themselves and not truly reflective of Kurz’ abilities.

As is often the case when coaches are appointed mid season, the Stuttgart born former defender will not be joining his new club under ideal circumstances. Hoffenheim are third from bottom of the table despite starting the season, under the departed Markus Babbel, confident of Europa League qualification.

Not everyone shared their optimism when the club chose to move goalkeeper Tom Starke and central defender Isaac Vorsah to Bayern Munich and Red Bull Salzburg, respectively. Tim Wiese was brought into replace Starke from Werder Bremen but this moved backfired and the German international keeper has struggled in front of a defence that has let in forty one goals this season.

Hoffenheim’s form has been truly wretched. The last point they notched on the board was against Fortuna Düsseldorf on 10th November after which followed a run of six defeats. The players have not tasted victory since 3rd November against Schalke.  The  However, the dreadful car accident in September of young midfielder Boris Vukčević of which he has only recently awoken has to be considered in mitigation.

Nevertheless, there is a smattering of relatively exciting talent in the shape of Roberto Firmino, Takashi Usami, Sven Schipplock, Joselu and Kevin Volland. Stalwarts from that 2009 Winter Champions are still at the club in the shape of Sejad Salihović, Andreas Beck and Tobia Weiss.

On balance there is enough there for the incoming Kurz to be optimistic that he can keep Hoffenheim in the division, particularly since the bottom two teams seem unlikely to mount a convincing survival bid. If Kurz can stop the rot then, at the very least, a relegation play off with the third placed team in the second division is on the cards.

In the longer term, much will depend on Kurz relationship with software billionaire Dietmar Hopp, the de facto owner of the club. Hopp has put the kitchen sink into getting his beloved village club into the Bundesliga. While he is not made of money it is not out of the question that there may be opportunities for Kurz to bring players in and develop the squad, assuming that they can survive the season.

If the trio of Hopp, Kurz and sporting director, Andreas Müller can bring stability to the club then Kurz may be allowed to take Hoffenheim a good deal further than he would have done at Kaiserslautern.

Bundesliga Review – Entertaining Hoffenheim rewarded with a win by Archie Rhind-Tutt

 

Markus Babbel secures a vital win as Schalke are hassled by die Hoffe…

Hoffenheim’s season so far has been eventful to say the least. On the pitch, there’s been plenty of entertainment with the matches involving die Hoffe averaging just under four goals per game – the Bundesliga’s highest. That’s impressive when you consider they’ve even had a goalless draw against Augsburg, though that was one of the more sombre moments of the season.

It came just a day after Hoffenheim midfielder Boris Vukcevic was nearly killed in a car crash. Thankfully, he’s no longer in a critical condition and is now recovering out of hospital. Vukcevic’s team hadn’t won in his absence but they didn’t get off to the best of starts with him either, picking up six points in five games. Going into this weekend’s game against an in-form Schalke, Markus Babbel’s side were lurking just outside the relegation zone.

At the beginning of this season, Babbel was both the coach and the director of football. However, as results caved in, Andreas Müller arrived to allow him to focus on coaching the team. The pressure hasn’t relented. Babbel made fourteen signings in the summer and with results not picking up, rumours have circulated that he was close to losing his job. A win in the Bundesliga was imperative. Somehow it arrived on a weekend when Hoffenheim faced one of the division’s best teams.

In true Hoffenheim style, it was a most crazy victory, encapsulating the bizarre nature of their season. That comes in itself by having Tim Wiese in goal. The German goalkeeper is one of the Bundesliga’s more eccentric characters but he’s been a figure of ridicule this season after some of his performances. Wiese though was able to answer some of his critics on Saturday.

But for a goalkeeper to do this, he needs to be tested a fair amount. Schalke’s dominance at the Rhein-Neckar Arena provided this opportunity as Wiese made some crucial saves. Even so, Hoffenheim weren’t faultless defensively. Then again, what would you expect from the worst defence in the Bundesliga?Twice the home team went ahead. Twice they were pegged back by Schalke. In their previous home game against Fürth, they managed to do this “trick” three times. Saturday was to prove different.

With the game just about to enter stoppage time the seemingly luckless Babbel made one last roll of the dice by bringing on striker Sven Schipplock. Minutes later, he was celebrating an unlikely win. Schipplock combined with another substitute, Vincenzo Grifo, to send the ball past Lars Unnerstall and lifting Hoffenheim away from the relegation zone.

It might not be long until they’re back near it. After all, this was their first victory since September. Hoffenheim are having to work hard for their wins this season too. On the three occasions they have won in the Bundesliga, they’ve scored three. Already they’ve netted three in two other instances and not emerged victorious – there’s still plenty of work to do for Coach Markus Babbel.

He talked of Saturday providing another exciting game but what he could really do with is his side grinding out a few more results and gaining some consistency. Neutrals will be hoping otherwise as Hoffenheim are proving to be one of the Bundesliga’s most entertaining teams this season.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga

  • There was increased attention on Bayern Munich this weekend – what would happen after their first league defeat of the season? Well, a win of course. They beat Hamburg 3-0 as their challengers slipped up.
  • With Schalke beaten in Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund failed to close the gap on either Bayern or their rivals. The Champions were held at home by an ever improving Stuttgart. Armin Veh’s Eintracht Frankfurt had to settle for a point too against a fellow promoted side, with Greuther Fürth drawing at the Commerzbank Arena. No need though to get the Veh-olin’s out just yet…
  • For some, it was a case of getting back on track this weekend. Nuremberg won for the first time in six games beating Wolfsburg in Franconia. Hannover on the other hand recovered from their first home defeat in over a year by defeating Augsburg. For Borussia Mönchengladbach though, it was disappointment after last weekend’s heroics in Hannover. The Foals slipped to a 1-1 draw against a Freiburg side progressing well under Christian Streich.
  • And finally, Sunday proved to be another entertaining day in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen and Düsseldorf played out a five goal thriller with Bayer coming out on top. Werder were the day’s other winners despite Mainz’s Adam Szalai becoming the joint top goal scorer in the division.
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Matchday 10 Results:

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Fürth

Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Stuttgart

Gladbach 1-1 Freiburg

Hannover 2-0 Augsburg

Hoffenheim 3-2 Schalke

Nuremberg 1-0 Wolfsburg

Hamburg 0-3 Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Düsseldorf

Werder Bremen 2-1 Mainz

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 10 9 0 1 30:4 +26 27 CL*
2 FC Schalke 04 10 6 2 2 20:11 +9 20 CL*
3 Eintracht Frankfurt 10 6 2 2 21:14 +7 20 CL*
4 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 10 5 3 2 18:14 +4 18 CL* Qual.
5 Borussia Dortmund 10 4 4 2 20:11 +9 16 EL* Qual.
6 Hannover 96 10 4 2 4 20:16 +4 14 EL* Qual.
7 SV Werder Bremen 10 4 2 4 17:15 +2 14
8 1. FSV Mainz 05 10 4 2 4 13:12 +1 14
9 Hamburger SV 10 4 1 5 11:14 -3 13
10 VfB Stuttgart 10 3 4 3 10:15 -5 13
11 Borussia Mönchengladbach 10 3 4 3 13:19 -6 13
12 SC Freiburg 10 3 3 4 14:13 +1 12
13 1899 Hoffenheim 10 3 2 5 16:22 -6 11
14 1. FC Nuremberg 10 3 2 5 8:15 -7 11
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 10 2 4 4 9:15 -6 10
16 VfL Wolfsburg 10 2 2 6 6:17 -11 8 Play-offs
17 Greuther Fürth 10 1 4 5 7:16 -9 7 Relegation
18 FC Augsburg 10 1 3 6 5:15 -10 6 Relegation

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

Article orginally published on Football Fan Cast

Babbel’s Bubble Bursting

Matthias Suuck takes a look at the lacklustre start to life at Hoffenheim for new coach Markus Babbel.

When Markus Babbel was introduced as the new manager of TSG Hoffenheim both the club and its fans were hoping for animprovement over the lackluster performances the team had been producing under Holger Stanislawski. Needless to say, the hoped for effect has not quite taken hold. After his first six matches in charge, the team has produced only one win, while compiling three uninspired draws and two losses. The one victory was against the wildly inconsistent VfL Wolfsburg and two of the draws came against Mainz and Cologne, both of which should have been defeated given Hoffenheim’s aspirations of being a top six caliber club. Everybody, of course, knows what happened when Hoffenheim faced Bayern and an early lack of inspiration doomed them against local rivals Stuttgart.

The one shocking (at least for some) point was that the team has seemed no more enthusiastic to play for Babbel than it was for Stanislawski. The truth of the matter is that Babbel was never the perfect fit to inspire greatness from a team that really is just a mid-table quality squad, especially after losing Ibisevic during the winter transfer window. All one has to do is look at Babbel’s previous stints as manager to see that he is a rather mediocre manager.

Though he was ousted from Berlin more due to his contract (and personality) dispute with Michael Preetz than for sporting reasons, the team had not been performing well for him in the end either. After a victory against Cologne way back on match day 8, the only victories for Babbel teams came twice against Wolfsburg (once with Berlin and once with Hoffenheim). Going back to his time as Stuttgart manager he had amazing initial success (well…for half a season at least) in getting Stuttgart into a Champions League spot, but when the luster wore off, he was sacked just one year after being hired. At the time of his sacking, Stuttgart were on a relegation spot after 15 matches.

New Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel

The club leadership at Hoffenheim clearly speculated on Babbel producing the same effect for their squad as he had done when he took over a mid-table Stuttgart team almost midway through the season. The two situations though are vastly different. Not too long before taking over, Babbel was still an active player for Stuttgart and was an assistant there prior to being awarded the manager post. He knew the team intimately and was the right man to get the most out of the squad, some of which were still his old teammates. At Hoffenheim, however, he has no such insights or ties, which is clearly reflected in the team’s play.

Watching the last two matches, Hoffenheim have lacked much creativity and have simply been outplayed by their opponents. Against Bayern they seemed like a rabbit frozen in the headlights and subsequently got overrun by an inspired (and angry) Bayern side. In the match versus Stuttgart they only woke up after the break, when they already trailed by two goals. The catalyst for a more threatening attack was Sejad Salihovic, who Babbel brought in after the 48th minute, following an internal two match ban for disciplinary reasons. After all was said and done though, Hoffenheim deservedly lost the match, mainly based upon the poor initial tactical selections made by Markus Babbel. Though the team has creative players (the undisciplined Salihovic for one) and threatening goal scorers (Ryan Babel when he is in the mood), it is a matter of turning their talent into game changing performances, which is their current problem.

I think we can all agree that Europe is well out of Hoffenheim’s grasp this season, but if they want to secure a mid-table finish and not get dragged into the relegation battle, Markus Babbel must find the button he needs to push in order to get better performances out of his squad and harness the talent that they do possess. The next two matches against Mönchengladbach and Schalke will be very difficult and if Hoffenheim does not improve their performances through these two games it could end up being a rather tense end to the season and Markus Babbel’s time as Hoffenheim manager.